New iPhone rumors: LTE behind design changes?

August 13, 2012

Talk about the new iPhone just won’t stop, with more speculation about what it will look like and when it will be released surfacing every day.

As we kick off the third week of August, a few rumors are gaining strength: There are some serious looks at photos that show a two-toned iPhone back, indications that the iPhone will be an LTE device and suggestions that the new iPhone will have a bigger battery.

More battery life is always a good thing, particularly if Apple takes the plunge into 4G and adds features such as a near-field communications reader. The rumor started with a leaked photo to 9 to 5 Mac — a snapshot of a longer, thinner battery that could fit in a longer, thinner iPhone that’s expected to hit shelves this summer.

The blog’s Marc Gurman hedged a bit on whether he thought this really was a battery for the next iPhone, though, saying that it could be a scrapped Apple part or a battery for a different device.

“We speculate that perhaps Apple’s tweaked dual-core system on a chip for this new iPhone is efficient enough to run LTE with the need for a much larger battery,” Gurman wrote, referring to rumors that Apple’s next phone will be powered by a more efficient chip.

The LTE connectivity speculation is getting a bit more traction, as well, not only because Apple included it on the latest iPad, but also because more pictures were leaked to 9 to 5 Mac and show a motherboard that makes room for not only a higher-capacity battery but also for more antenna connections.

And connectivity is exactly what many think may be behind pictures of a unibody iPhone with a two-toned back. As Cult of Mac points out, the metal back isn’t exactly classic Apple, as the company’s designers tend to keep things as simple as possible. Even though the metal on the black model of the mocked-up iPhone is dark, it’s still fairly noticeable.

According to Don Lehman of the Techblock, the phone mockups — which show metal in the middle and glass or plastic on the ends — could be designed to get rid of any lingering antenna interference issues.

“Antennas for the most part do not transmit signals through metal,” wrote Lehman, an industrial designer. “The cell antenna is integrated into the metal case, but there are still separate Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and (potentially) NFC antennas to deal with. They need to transmit their signal through non-signal-blocking materials such as plastic or glass.”

Lehman’s excellent analysis aside, he also notes that some think the photos circulating right now may be a red herring, possibly of an iPhone prototype, to throw everyone off the trail in predicting the design and updates for Apple’s next phone.

“I’m secretly rooting for this option if only because it would be so diabolically awesome,” Lehman wrote.

Apple suppliers had a strong July quarter, which Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White believes adds some credence to the iPhone’s rumored release date of Sept. 12. As Computerworld reported, Taiwanese component makers saw their revenue jump 14 percent from June to July, the largest month-over-month increase ever for June.

Related stories:

Ahead of ‘iPhone 5,’ Apple matches discounts on iPhone 4, 4S, reports say

Apple ‘iPhone 5’ rumors continue to fly

Apple ‘iPhone 5’ rumor roundup: It’s all about the screen

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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